tv Tavis Smiley PBS April 10, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PDT
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight the second part of our conversation with actress rita moreno. she has a new memoir called "rita moreno: a memoir." we are glad you joined us. >> there is a saying that dr. always the right time to do the right thing. by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> the new book is called "rita moreno: a memoir." we started this conversation last night, and we will there are 2000 broadcast on may 24. 10 years, 2000 shows. only a few times have i been in a conversation so rich i have to keep going. >> you dirty person.
>> there is awful lot more to get to. .- a lot more to get to when we left this conversation, we were talking about your .ssue with marlon brando we mentioned james forman. told by so many of my friends in dr. king's inner circle that everyone was jealous that he was dating you. >> who was jealous? is your interview. maybe dr. king himself for all we know. how did that happen? after thispened was amazing and event, we all stayed
there. remember where it was, but we were in a little group of people talking. we were so wired. tavis: you had to be. >> that encompassed all of that. people walking, taking buses. it was thrilling. you know what was wonderful? you really believed in the human race. all cynicism and went out the window. it was such a healthy thing for everybody involved. even those read about it and were just as thrilled about this happening. otherand i and a few people sat and talked.
we had some drinks. i found him very good-looking. eyes. hazel eyes -- hazel i love this manner. he was very gentle and sweet and funny. that was that. and i was at another demonstration a week later, and there he was again. there she was again. this time we stayed longer and had a hamburger or something, and we began to become interested in each other. i remember one part in the book, and i would love to repeat it. me time he was going to drop off in his car. this was before any romance took place. i said to him, i am so hungry. can you stop somewhere and let me get a burger to go seven? he said, why don't we go to my people?
there is always something to eat with my people. brought me to tears, because i thought, how wonderful that you have people at your back. it meant so much to me that i was with this person who had people who would look after him. if they had one drumstick left they were going to share. that is the feeling i got. that really endeared me to him, and i fell. tavis: kelly about your people -- how you got to the bronx tell me about your people and how you got to the bronx. >> my mother did something extremely courageous for someone at the time in puerto rico at a little catholic ireland.
father, and she did something truly remarkable. she left me with my father and my little brother francisco and took a ship to new york city, the united states of america, to see if she could find some kind of other life. philanderer, not surprising. shop ina job in a sweat new york city and stayed with an aunt in an apartment in the bronx, and when she had made enough money and learned enough english, she took out shipped back to puerto rico, and i remember it was christmas time. was to bring me back to the united states for a better life she was after. for about a us month or so. she said, we are going to
another place that is going to be so exciting. i went of the boat with her happy, knowing my little brother would eventually come. one of us had to come. it could not be both of us. we took a nightmarish trip and ran into a huge storm, and we got ourselves into new york city. i remember passing the statue of liberty were i saw that lady and thought, she was holding a giant ice cream cone. my mother said, that lady is saying, welcome. this is the lady that is going to help us have a better life. meantime, it is so cold. i have never seen a tree without leaves on it. that does not seem like a big thing, does it? think about having lived in a paradise of green and pink and red and green and then seeing a tree looking like it is dead for
all intensive purposes, and i said, what happened to these trees? she said, this is a thing called winter. she said, in a little while it will be worn again and you will see some leaves. it was not a happy thing for me. a gray concrete place where nobody liked you. my mother was astonishing. she had three jobs. d beautifully. she made all my dresses. she and i made paper flowers for woolworth's. i learned how to make them, because she was getting paid by the peace. that is how she made money. she got jobs washing dishes. when they saw she could cook, she helped the chef.
the book, this remarkable young woman. she wanted a better life, and it took me a long time to understand better did not mean this minute. did you have to work for it. >> it did not take you long to get on broadway. >> i was searching. by that time i was already a spanish dancer, all that glamorous stuff. into broadway. i was dancing when i was 6. i did a lot of jewish weddings and bar mitzvahs. why? they were hiring little kids. it was cheaper may be. i did a lot of that. i did radio. and one of of radio,
them was hilarious to me. t was called the ave maria hour, and it was a half hour. i played bernadette, the girl who saw the figure of married in the grotto. it was one of those things where i had to speak in an accident. get that child out of here. she is mad as a hatter. get her out of here. but i saw it. tavis: how did you go? ou know? who gift?red the def how did you know this was your calling? >> i did not know it was a calling. i knew i loved to dance, and he
put on a salsa records, and i would jump around shaking my duty, and he thought that was great and applauded and said, isn't she wonderful, and everybody in the family thought, but isn't she adorable? i love the attention. sometimes it is in the dna. name? what is your given doloresven name is rosa alvario. tavis: i love it. how did we get to who -- >> rita moreno? my first film, and no one could announce it right,
and i had a stepfather named edward moreno. when i did my first film, the moreno.till says rosita t moreno came --wait a minute. let me get my time straight. when i went to mgm under contract, the casting director called me in, and i thought, i am done. fire me. listen, riter. rositer, we have got to change your name. it is to italian. -- too italian.
he came up with some doozies like d.c., -- like daisy. montenegro.id black forest. i kept saying no. i thought, he is not going to let me say no forever. i had better settle. he said, what about rita moreno? i thought, i had better settle. i am going to end of which with orchid. up tavis: this is a gorgeous cover, but it kind of reminds me -- >> does this make you think of elizabeth taylor?
tavis: 0, yes. >> the publisher -- i had no role models. for myself.le model the only one i could think of the identified with was this gorgeous creature called elizabeth taylor, so she became my role model. when i went to meet louis b. mayer, i had the eyebrow. tavis: that is hot. now backs i am serious. serious, too. not look at that waist. washere was no doubt i
pulled in. i will disappoint you. waist.s my they use to pad you like crazy. i was doing a film with lawn of turner.- lana woman with black blood and denies it completely. jackson singing. one little girl comes back, that is jackson singing. >> oh, my god. i was doing a film to be his first film in america. lover, and in
visited the sets all the time, but i have a small role in assistant director said common -- and the assistant director said, will you do a favor for ms. turner? go to the wardrobe department and get something waiting for you to take to mr. turner's dressing room. silk outgives me a with a drawstring on it, and she said in a strict way, take this oom and do nots rume look inside. inside.o not look >> i was thrilled. it was not just me. i was so thrilled. lana turner the not need help.
that is what they did in those days. those things you saw were built into my dress. who is shaped like that? they are finals. funnels. tavis: how did you survive? >> i were so much rubber i bump into a wall once and ricocheted. how did you survive? there are some harrowing stories in this book. now a wonderful actress thandie newton was here, and she and i got in a conversation about her earliest days in the business and trying to navigate agents and casting directors. some of the stories you tell
back in the day, how did you navigate that? how did you get through all done? >> it was enormous difficulty. with not a lot of grace either. a surprisingly innocent person for my age. i was really young for my age , and when i heard someone using four-letter words, i was truly shocked. i mention that hideous nightmare cocktail party. home and want to die. poorly -- treat it so poorly you have to regroup.
you will either learn resilience, or you will develop a tough skin, and i did not want to do that. it was a conscious decision that i was not going to allow myself to get hard and cynical. marlon said something wonderful about me once. touching and amusing. he said, you are one of the most hopeful people i have ever met. you make me think of the park attendant with a long stick with the nail in it, only you go andnd picking up hope putting in a paper bag. i am one of the most joyous people i have ever met, and perhaps it comes out of having been through so much.
people who have been through bad stuff and are not as joyous as i am. i am in the prime of my life. you survived all of that and went on to get married and stayed married for 46 years until he passed away. but that was not the happiest of marriages for me. the first 10 years were good, and he was a very controlling man, very loving, devoted. but hea really fine man, was a very controlling man, and that is one of those on written contracts we really signed together without talking about it. you will be my good daddy, and i will be your little girl, but your little girl eventually wanted to grow up, and that is when our marriage got in trouble.
tavis: how concerned were you about what your little girl was going to pick up when she read this book? >> i kept warning her and warning her. i said, i am going to tell the truth. her name is fernandez, to whom the book is dedicated. fernanda, whom the book is dedicated. i said i am going to tell the truth about the daddy, and i am going to be fair, but i have to talk about both sides. i cannot just talk about him being not good for me without saying i was not good for him. i think he married the wrong woman. he wanted to change me. one of the most shocking things he said very early in the marriage. he said, this is wonderful. we are going to travel a lot. you will which show business, and we will go here. he said that -- he will quit
show business, and we will go there. he said that casually. did i hear right? you are going to quit show business? i remember saying, what did you say? he said, we will talk about that some other time, but that is what happened. was not the show business part of my life he did not care for. nature.y raucous tavis: who could have possibly thought they were going to change you? >> i guess he did. that is what controlling people are like. yous: he did not know though. >> it caused a lot of trouble. there came a point when i could not take it anymore, and i thought about moving out, but i
could not take it. i am not a lever. -- a leaver. tavis: this is night two. i have three nights of latino nation.n -- latino before my time runs out, i started this program last night. last night'so see conversation. i started this program last night by listing all the accolades you receive, and --ar, an attorney, an emmy, a tony, an emmy, a grammy. what does all that mean to you? >> in one way absolutely nothing, and in another way, is very important, because i am a those awards.earn
i did not buy them. them. got one reason it is so meaningful to me is because of who gave it to me. i grabbed them. i was so undignified. all morning i rehearse. and your head so you can put the metal over you and all that, and i am about the fifth one he calls to the podium common and i oh!s there and go, i am surprised i did not put my leg around him. michelle was there, and i went, fine. >> you can get away with that. she has earned the right to hug and kiss and squeeze the
president. it is a life well lived at 81. she ain't slowing down. i do not believe she is 81, but that is what her driver's license says. even with two nights, i have not done justice to what you will read in this book. it is inspiring. if disempowering. and then some. you -- it is an powering. thank you for coming on. >> come hear you big drink of water. is our show. keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. join me next time for a conversation about the impact of the fastest-growing group in our country, latinos.
that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.